Sackcloth Fashion, The Lone Flower
If you're the type who really digs ABBA and Black Eyed Peas, but sometimes the W.W.J.D. tattoo on your index finger stops you from hitting “play,” Sackcloth Fashion is the best all-white hip-hop and R&B crew for you. A talented group that apes everyone from Eminem to Smashmouth and cleans it up for the squeaky crowd.
Secret Apollo, Demo
I was sort of anticipating The Pixies' “Debaser” to break out of my speakers at any given second. The experimental mix of good ‘ol rock ‘n' roll with harmonized duet that this three-piece produces is fun and exhilaratingly happy.
Salim Sivaad, The Birth of the Ill
No words can describe this homemade four-song demo better than the artist himself. The following comes from the handwritten note he included in the CD package: “Dear reviewer, I am Salim Sivaad (Yes it's from Miles Davis spelled backwards).... I am a spoken word, poet, composer, keyboardist, vibraphonist and producer of progressive hip-hop, jazz, house, downtempo, and neo-soul.” Make of that what you will.
Soft Lightes, 4-Track Home Recordings
Mixing bits of electronica with rock and folk for a demo that sounds better than many artists' finished albums, and with song titles like “The Robots in my Bedroom were Playing Arena Rock,” Soft Lightes' main man Ron Fountenberry hasn't lost his sense of whimsy. He also clearly thrives in the limited four-track environment. Fans of his previous work should rush to find this ASAP.
South Psycho Cide, Welcome to Reality
Local heads know Psycho-they're our answer to Dre and Snoop's West Coast rap cool. Hard-ass lyrics with smoothed-out lump-funk. If it was the first time we'd heard ‘em, they'd be EXTRASPECIALGOOD. But they're one of the most pro troupes in town, and they've been around. Plus, they need to escape Chronic's exhaust... soon.
Species, Of Questionable Origins
No shit it's of questionable origins. Some of this sounds like The Blues, if Weird Al sang them. Other tracks include something that sounds like a Jimmy Buffet tune as performed by John Denver and a ballad about becoming a partner in a law firm. To say it's all over the place would be generous, but given the right meds and a certain level of hearing loss, it's right on.
Peter Sprague, Friends For Life
Issued to benefit the Escondido Humane Society, this album actually doubles as a compilation showcasing a trio of jazz artists on Sprague's own SBE Records. Included are Blurring The Edges, Andy Villas-Boas and Sprague himself, with music ranging from moody piano pieces to samba. An excellent introduction to these world-class musicians.
Stolen, Seeing is Believing
Now this is a rock 'n' roll record. Where you been all my life, Stolen? (They were an EXTRASPECIALGOOD last year, Decker. Read your own magazine, you twat.-Ed(itor)). It sounds all Sabbathy, and Zeppy and John Spencery-you know, the kind of band that makes you want to whip out your dick and piss on a boy band. I want to see these guys live.
Keith Sullivan, Demo
A “cold, cold woman” lights Keith Sullivan's fire. He wants to “catch a falling star.” Some of his simple acoustic blues-rock melodies on guitar are good enough to atone for such statements, but the cliché police are working on this case in conjunction with the criminally-unimpressive-song division, and this sucker's busted.
Sunsets and Landscapes, Adjust EP
If Jeff Buckley's formless run-ons of songs were approached with Blind Melon's sense of what the hippies dig, it would sound like this. Pretty good-cool guitar tones, nice wandering vocals-until you realize the whole song is like that. And you've got six minutes to go.
Sunshine Groove Band, Demo
Two seniors from Grossmont High that should stay in school and become investment bankers like their parents want. Their music is neither groovy, nor sunshiny, but it will make you want to move to Seattle.
Talking to Strangers, A Whisper in the Dark
Keep your eye on this one. Right now, it sounds like a very talented young female vocalist-the smoke and swagger type-with a few friends. Their songs are typical stuff you do in your first band, like young poets transcribing A Road Less Traveled. But she's a power waiting to get more adventurous.
Talls, The Albums
Ten tracks worth of generic rap and uninspired beats with about three songs that might be worth a second listen, if you're Talls' girlfriend or something. Some backing tracks sound like they're lifted straight from a fifth-generation dub of The Chronic, and thin production throughout ensures nobody's gonna be bumping this on their sweet-assed stereo. You know it's bad when the highlight is a four-minute “Your Mama” joke.
That Mad Ahab, Live at Gelato Vera
This folk-rock band has lyrics similar to those of drunk frat boys singing in South Carolina. The music is simple but clean and will inspire you to grab the ol' washboard and take a nip of shine. Behind all the twang lurks an indie warble, like Conor Oberst's punked-out older brothers who aren't so frickin' sad. What's there not to like about a banjo player with tats?
Michael Tiernan, Jumping In
Michael Tiernan is a bona fide Del Martian, but snagged 2004's Independent Male Singer/Songwriter of the Year Award at the Los Angeles Music Awards. His third effort, Jumping In, was co-produced by fellow local talent Sven-Erik Seaholm. Varied musical stylings, nimble guitar work, and a strong tenor combine to make for a highly listenable album, if a bit pedestrian at times.
The Transit War, Ah Discordia
Eat an entire box of Samoa Girl Scout cookies. The ensuing sugar rush will help you achieve the necessary energy level to listen to this blink-182-esque band. Sadly, when the sugar rush ends you feel tired and saggy. Much like their music. Nothing original here, but their website is swell.
Trip West, Demo
After this lo-fi band runs through a homage to T.S.O.L., they grab the lapels of their blue-suede tuxes and sing a 1950s homage to the girls at the Pannikin coffee shop in Encinitas. It's fun and a pubic hair above marginal, but “Shauna, Lucille, Adrienne and Eleanor” now have their own love song. Free coffee if this ever hits (pirate) radio.
Torpedo Betty, Demo
Torpedo Betty is San Diego's answer to the age-old question of “What would happen if a funk cover band listened to a bit too much Phish?” Competent, fun if you have a drink in your hand, and funky enough to at least make your parents feel edgy.
Anna Troy, Dollhouse
Just guitar and occasional harmonica accompany Troy's voice on the six songs on this EP, showcasing a singer-songwriter now some distance from the processed pop of her almost major-label sister act. While the music here does dwell on the standard relationship issues, it's a strong collection played with audible passion.
Truckee Brothers, It Came From the Speakers
First off, A+ in the title choice department. It complements their B-movie bar/surf rock perfectly. These guys are kinda like the missing link between Man or Astroman? and Joe Strummer's first band, The 101er's. And they all share the same last name...just like the Jacksons!